Last Updated January 15, 2021
Called in for a second shift? Baby up all night? Overloading on credits this semester?
There are a million different reasons why people are tired. Unfortunately, this can also affect your day-to-day performance in a million different ways. Luckily, there is one-fast and easy solution: caffeine pills.
Caffeine pills are a simple and effective way to give yourself an energy boost when you need it most. They’re also more potent and take effect more quickly than a cup of coffee or tea.
Are Caffeine Pills Safe?
Look, too much of anything is bad for you. This includes many widely-available products such as over-the-counter pain killers, sugar, and, yes, caffeine.
But, if you take caffeine pills in a moderate amount, following recommendations from your doctor and the label, you should be fine. Remember, children, pregnant women, and those with certain underlying conditions shouldn’t regularly consume large amounts of caffeine. Other healthy adults, however, may find great benefits from caffeine pills. A quick conversation with your doctor can help put your mind at ease if you are unsure or worried.
It may also be worth noting that some people can develop a dependence on caffeine pills, just as many people develop a dependence on coffee.
Do Caffeine Pills Work?
Do caffeine pills quickly and efficiently give you a potent dose of caffeine to help you conquer your day? Yes. Yes, they do.
Need more proof? Talk to a random nurse or college student. The chances are high that they (or their peers) use this simple supplement regularly to compensate for lost sleep and crazy schedules.
Types of Caffeine Pills
While there are a lot of similarities between different types of caffeine pills, there are a few differences between brands that you may want to consider.
- Rapid vs. Delayed Release: Do you need energy right now? Or are you going to need it for an entire shift or long work out? A delayed release caffeine pill may help prevent jitters and last longer, but it may not have as much of an immediate effect as a rapid release pill.
- Dosage: A typical cup of coffee has around 95 milligrams of caffeine, although the brand and preparation can cause a lot of fluctuation in this. If you typically drink eight cups a day, a higher dose caffeine pill may be for you. However, if you feel jittery after having a glass of Coca Cola (35 milligrams of caffeine), you may want to try a caffeine pill with a lower dose. Most pills have 100-250 mg of caffeine.
- L-Theanine: This compound, derived from green tea, helps relieve caffeine jitters. Many caffeine pills add it so that consumers don’t feel negative side effects.
- Softgel vs. Capsule vs. Tablet: “Pill” is a pretty generic word that can describe any small compound that is meant to be swallowed whole. Softgels, capsules, and tablets all have a different release speed. Keep in mind whether you want a rapid release (tablet) pill or one with a more gradual release (softgel or capsule) when buying caffeine pills.
- Additional Vitamins and Minerals: Some caffeine pills contain other substances in addition to caffeine that may help to keep you alert. Common ingredients include vitamin C, MACA root, collagen, green tea extract, and more.
- Additives: Some caffeine pills contain preservatives and sweeteners. Make sure to check the ingredients table, especially if you have allergies!
Ranking the Best Caffeine Pills
Why is this our favorite caffeine pill? Because it is 100% caffeine! If you are just looking for caffeine and no additives, this is your best bet. It is straight forward and, with 220 mg caffeine per capsule, it’ll get the job done. Better yet? At $5.23 for 125 pills ($0.04 per pill), you’re getting a great value too!
Want all of the benefits of a clean caffeine pill but none of the side effects of caffeine? Smarter Vitamins has a simple caffeine supplement for you. It includes caffeine, L-Theanine from green tea, and MCT oil. That’s it. No fillers. Just energy, an all-nature jitter-reducer, and coconut oil. Their product is a little pricier, but it’s cheaper in bulk.
Zhou is unique because it contains more L-Theanine than caffeine (200 mg vs. 100 mg). This is a great option for people with a lower caffeine tolerance or people who experience a lot of side-effects from caffeine. The high dose of L-Theanine increases focus while the caffeine increases energy, making this a great option for college students. The only other ingredients are cellulose, which is what the capsule is made of, and rice powder to hold everything together.
This caffeine pill combines low dosage caffeine with L-Theanine and MCT oil in a delayed-release softgel capsule. This means you can easily customize your caffeine intake, minimize side effects, and spread out the benefits over a longer period of time.
Look, maybe you just want caffeine, and you want it now. We get it. So does Nutricost. Their low-cost, no-frills caffeine pills will give you the boost you need for as little as $0.03 per pill. You can’t beat that!
Clean energy? No crash or jitters? Vegan-friendly? NutraChamp’s caffeine pills contain only three ingredients: caffeine, L-Theanine, and yerba mate. Yerba mate is a naturally caffeinated plant, and its addition to this supplement diversifies the caffeine sources. Its steady stream of energy keeps you focused instead of jittery.
Sometimes caffeine isn’t the only thing you need to get yourself going in the morning. Vital Proteins has a unique blend of collagen, caffeine, biotin, and vitamin C so that your brain and body will both feel great. The capsules are slow-release so you’ll feel great from dawn to dusk.
Smart caffeine works with any way of eating. It is friendly for vegans, carnivores, and everyone in between. It has two straightforward ingredients: caffeine and L-Theanine. This means it will give you clean energy without any jitters or crash.
How to Pick a Good Caffeine Pill For You
Why do you want caffeine pills? How much caffeine do you have in a typical day? Do you have any dietary restrictions? Do you have negative side effects from caffeine?
Asking yourself these questions is the easiest way to find a caffeine pill that will work well for you.
Before you buy, always make sure you check the ingredients and make sure to compare prices between similar products.
Benefits of Caffeine Pills
The most obvious benefit of caffeine pills is the jolt of energy they provide!
There are many ways to add caffeine to your day, but caffeine pills are the simplest. They are highly portable, fast-acting, inexpensive, and, most of all, convenient.
Caffeine pills can give you the energy and focus you need to excel in the office, in the classroom, or in the gym. For many people, caffeine is also a mood enhancer. This means that caffeine pills could help you grow in relationships with family and friends too.
Caffeine Pill Ingredients
Caffeine pills obviously contain caffeine. Typically, it is derived from coffee beans, though some pills contain other sources such as Yerba Mate.
Most pills also contain L-Theanine to keep jitters and other potential caffeine side effects at bay. This helpful compound is derived from green tea.
If you are consuming a softgel or capsule, your caffeine pill will also contain either gelatin or cellulose to hold the pill together. Make note of this if you are vegan since gelatin is a no-no on plant-based diets. Other capsules contain MCT oil (coconut oil) as a medium for the caffeine and L-Theanine.
Some caffeine pills operate more like supplements. These may include other vitamins and minerals that are known to have positive effects on cognition.
Some caffeine pills also contain extra ingredients like sweeteners and preservatives. Common ones include magnesium stearate, sorbitol, sugar, and silica. Pay attention to ingredients lists if you are trying to keep these things out of your diet.
Where to Buy Caffeine Pills
Caffeine pills are available in most pharmacies and vitamin stores. The best place to buy them, however, is the internet. You’ll have the largest selection and be able to easily compare ingredients, prices, and reviews. Fortunately, modern shipping is so fast that most things are delivered in 1-2 business days.
How to Use Caffeine Pills
You can take caffeine pills with or without food or drink any time you need a pick-me-up. Most pill manufacturers recommend not taking more than one pill every two to three hours and not taking more than two in twenty-four hours.
How Long Does Caffeine Take to Work
Pure caffeine can enter your bloodstream almost immediately after you swallow it. On the other hand, it may take a little longer to feel the effects of slow-release caffeine pills.
You’ll know immediately though when the caffeine starts working. You’ll feel a sudden rush of energy and greater focus.
How Long Do Caffeine Pills Last
Caffeine pills, even rapid release ones, should keep you energized for a couple hours at least. Some people feel a “crash” when the effects wear off, though. That is, they will feel sluggish and tired very suddenly.
Slower release pills give you a steady stream of energy over the course of many hours. In fact, some manufacturers claim that their product will last eight, twelve, or even twenty-four hours! These pills will also wear off more gradually without a disruptive caffeine crash.
When Is the Best Time to Take Caffeine Pills
Again, this depends! If you are the kind of person who wakes up and does not feel human until you have had two cups of coffee, your best bet is to take caffeine pills first thing in the morning.
If you are just taking caffeine pills to give yourself an extra energy boost before a test, a game, or a shift, your best bet is to take caffeine pills about 20 minutes before the big event.
You can take another caffeine pill after a couple hours or when the first starts to wear off. Make sure to follow the recommendations from the label when in doubt.
Remember that you don’t have to have any food or drink with your caffeine pills. Some people do have fewer side effects though if they take their pills on a full stomach, especially if your pills or tablets don’t have any L-Theanine.
Risks and Side Effects (and What to Do About Them)
The risks and side effects of caffeine pills are pretty much the same as the risks and side effects of caffeine generally.
- Jitters: Caffeine gives you energy! While it may be hard to imagine if you are tired, too much energy can leave you shaky or with a strong urge to move around.
- Sleeplessness: This probably goes without saying, but taking caffeine pills around bedtime is a terrible idea. You are likely taking caffeine pills because you are tired in the first place. A good night’s sleep can help with fatigue, but too much caffeine can interfere.
- Caffeine Crash: Caffeine, especially rapid release tablets, can make you feel great in the short term. Sometimes, however, the effects can wear off just as suddenly. This caffeine crash is less likely to happen with slower release caffeine capsules.
- Upset Stomach: If you are not used to taking caffeine, a large dose may make you feel queasy. Start with small doses and take your caffeine pills with food if you experience any nausea or stomach troubles.
- Dehydration: Caffeine can cause dehydration, which can lead to a whole host of problems. Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid these issues.
- Headache: Often, caffeine headaches relate to dehydration. Staying hydrated can often keep this problem at bay.
- Rapid Heart Rate: Too much caffeine too fast can lead to a rapid heart rate. You need to be especially careful about this if you have any heart conditions.
- Anxiety: Caffeine can help you focus, but sometimes people focus on the wrong things, causing anxiety. If you find that you are becoming anxious, take less caffeine or include L-Theanine with your dose.
- Dependency: Caffeine can be addictive for some people. Don’t take more than you need, and try to use other methods to decrease fatigue (walking, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep) so that you don’t need to take caffeine pills every single day.
If you are experiencing side effects, make sure to talk to your doctor. You should also talk to your doctor before taking any caffeine pills if you are pregnant, nursing, under 18, or have underlying medical conditions.
Alternative Ways to Get Caffeine
Caffeine pills are an effective way to get caffeine, but they are certainly not the only way to get it! Many everyday foods and drinks contain caffeine. Common sources include:
- Decaf Coffee (7 mg per cup)
- Dark Chocolate (12 mg per 1 oz.)
- Green Tea (20 mg per cup)
- Coca Cola (34 mg per 12 oz.)
- Caffeinated Gum (40 mg per piece)
- Diet Coca Cola (46 mg per 12 oz.)
- Black Tea (55 mg per 12 oz.)
- Espresso (64 mg per shot)
- Energy Drink (80 mg per bottle)
- Coffee (95 mg per cup)
- Energy Shot (200 mg per small bottle)
Remember when you get a coffee drink at a cafe, it will likely have a good bit of caffeine because of the serving size. For example, most cafes’ small size coffee will contain 12 oz. of coffee. This means it will have closer to 140 mg of caffeine. Likewise, a medium latte will have two shots of espresso, meaning it will have almost 130 mg of caffeine.
In any case, however, you would need to consume a good bit of tea, coffee, or cola to get the same amount of caffeine as you would from a caffeine pill.
Caffeine Pills vs Coffee
If you’ve always used coffee for your caffeine fix, you may be wondering what advantages caffeine pills have.
First of all, though it may be surprising, not everyone likes the taste of coffee. Some people find it too bitter and will either avoid it or add lots of cream and sugar to mask the taste. They may also instead opt for cafe beverages such as lattes, mochas, and cappuccinos.
Of course, consuming large amounts of coffee with these calorie-filled additives adds up and won’t be helpful if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight.
Fancy coffee beverages from cafes may indeed taste great, and they may even have a “skinny” option, but the price will also quickly add up. Even cheap, plain, gas station coffee will cost you at least a dollar, and a premium roast from your favorite coffee shop will be closer to $3.00 (or maybe more!). The average latte costs around $4.00 for a small. One a day will cost you $1460 per year! And that will only land you about 64 mg of caffeine.
Brewing your own coffee at home will be much cheaper, but each cup will still cost around 16 cents to brew. For as little as 3 cents per pill, you can get twice the caffeine — all without the brew time!
Maybe you are lucky and your company gives you as much coffee as you want for free while on the job. It is still possible to get heartburn if you consume too much, though, and you’ll be trading tiredness for stomach discomfort in this case. Coffee can also take a little while to be absorbed by your bloodstream, so you will have to wait about 15 minutes before you feel the effects of the caffeine. Caffeine pills, on the other hand, can start working almost immediately.
Finally, there’s a matter of portability. If you are on the go, coffee may not be the best option. It can easily be spilled or become too cold (or warm, in the case of iced coffee). There’s no way to easily throw it in a backpack or take it along for a workout. Caffeine pills, on the other hand, can easily be taken anywhere.
So do you need to give up coffee? Of course not! If you like the taste or want to use it for social occasions, there is no reason to stop. If you are just looking to get a quick caffeine boost, however, caffeine pills might be a better option.
Can Caffeine Pills Be Used for Weight Loss
Caffeine can help with weight loss in a few ways. As mentioned above, if caffeine pills replace beverages like cola or fancy cafe drinks, then they can save you calories over the course of the day.
Some people also swear that caffeine helps with their athletic performance. This means that they can workout harder for longer, which will also contribute to weight loss or muscle gain.
Finally, since caffeine is a nervous system stimulant, it can trigger hormones in your brain that rev up your metabolism.
Be careful though! Too much caffeine can put your body under stress which can have a negative effect on weight loss. It can also impede your sleep, which also contributes to weight loss stalls. Lost sleep can also lower impulse control, including snacking control.
Can You Overdose on Caffeine Pills?
Yes. Taking more than the recommended dose of caffeine pills or combining caffeine pills with other caffeinated products can lead to an overdose. Keep track of your total intake. Most people start experiencing negative side effects after consuming 400 mg. Talk with your doctor if you consume more than this or if you have underlying conditions that may make you more sensitive to caffeine intake.
If you are working to lower your caffeine intake, however, do so gradually. A rapid decrease can also cause side effects like headaches.
If you suspect you have overdosed on caffeine, call poison control immediately. Make sure to always keep caffeine pills away from children too as even smaller doses can have very serious side effects.
When Not to Take Caffeine Pills
Do not take caffeine pills if you are under 18, if you are pregnant, if you are nursing, or if you have underlying health conditions such as heart problems. Always talk with your doctor if you are unsure.
You should also avoid taking caffeine pills right before bed. This can lead to insomnia and restlessness, making your fatigue worse.
You should also avoid taking caffeine pills if you have already had a lot of caffeine from another source.